The real “scoop” behind milk oolong tea.
Golden Lily (Jin Xuan) Milk Oolong tea which is also widely known as “milk” oolong, seems to have given birth to a remarkable number of fantastic tales. My story about tears from the moon may not even be the most fantastic of them. I’ve seen some wild stories about tea watered with milk while it was grown or steamed with milk after harvesting. Considering that milk is more expensive than tea in Taiwan I think both of those stories are pretty unlikely.
So here’s the more mundane history behind “milk” oolong, also known as (Golden Lily Oolong). This tea varietal was originally developed in Taiwan in 1981 by the Tea Research Extension Station (TRES) in Taiwan. TRES is a collaboration between the Formosa Governor-General’s Production Bureau and Taiwanese tea farmers. Among TRES’s jobs is developing new strains of commercial teas for export. Milk oolong was originally developed in 1981 and called prosaically enough, Oolong #27.
From the very first experimental harvest, the distinctive silky texture and milk-like taste was noted. This oolong has a very distinct floral aroma and a mouth feel that lingers in the mouth an unusually long time. The first commercial producers of Oolong #27 decided to call the new tea Golden Lily Oolong to denote the distinctive floral aroma but locals simply began referring to the tea as milk oolong.
Our farmer in Thailand first planted Golden Lily Oolong in the hill country of northern Thailand in 1992 and we’ve since been awarded several prizes in international tea competitions for the quality of his Golden Lily oolong. I hope you will give it a try. Here’s the link again